Why Daryl Morey is the reason the Rockets are awful

N.B. Lindberg
Orlando Magic v Houston Rockets
Orlando Magic v Houston Rockets / Tim Warner/GettyImages
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Daryl Morey build a championship team in Houston

Daryl Morey built a championship team in Houston. The 2017-18 Rockets won 65 games, the most in franchise history by seven games, and led the league in net-rating and offensive rating. The combination of peak James Harden and late-prime Chris Paul was a lethal offensive duo, and P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela, and Trevor Ariza provided the defensive infrastructure for a top-10 defense. If it wasn’t for the literal greatest team in NBA history and a Chris Paul hamstring tear, that team would have won a championship. 

For the Rockets to build a team capable of unseating the Kevin Durant version of the Golden State Warriors, they had to push everything in. Morey flipped first-round picks and players like a TLC show flips houses. Before Jalen Green was selected with the second overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, the Rockets hadn’t selected a player in the first round since Sam Dekker at 18th in 2015. 

Securing veterans capable of helping a team right away was always the right decision, but it meant that there was no young wave of cost-controlled talent waiting to step in. The roster was essentially James Harden, his co-star, and veteran mercenaries. It’s tough to argue with the recipe, but it very clearly was a team built by mortgaging the future, and unfortunately for Rockets fans, the future of then is now.